Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More Signs A-Rod Might Be Crazy

"I hit solid with an accelerated bat head. I hit solid with an accelerated bat head. I hit solid with an accelerated bat head."

Sure you do, princess. Sure you do.

Pretend you’re one of the best athletes playing professional baseball today, a man who with the biggest contract in major league history, a batting title and multiple all-star game appearances. You’re also known for being unable to hit in the clutch (to the point where even fans of your team curse your inability to start a rally) and your hall-of-fame quality career seems to be so stats driven that not only have you never won a ring, but teams seem to do better for a year or two after you leave them. Finally, fans of Boston don’t like you because you signed for the Yankees after teasing Boston with your contract, because of your purple lips, because you slapped the ball out of Arroyo’s hand during the 2004 playoffs, because you challenged Varitek to a fight and lost and because you beat out the face of the Red Sox for MVP last year. What’s the last thing you’d want to talk about with Boston reporters? The fact that you rely on a guy with a BA in marketing and psychology to make sure that you come to the plate every day with a strong bat and a quick glove? Yeah, probably.

File this under “athletes have just as many confidence problems as the rest of us,” with a cross listing under “Alex Rodriguez gets crazier every year”: an article in yesterday’s Globe about Jim Fannin, a former tennis pro who has spent the last 30 years teaching athletes and business leaders to use their own potential to turn themselves into superstars. Among the list of athletes is Alex Rodriguez, who has worked with Fannin for the past ten years and speaks to him by phone, voicemail or in person every day. Yes, every day, like they have some sort of intimate relationship.

And what does Fannin do, exactly? He gets people into The Zone, which seems to be the modern equivalent of the Zen concept of mu shin – the trick of getting your mind to let go of conscious reaction to an action and to simply act. The ability to do so is very useful for anyone trying to do any coordinated physical activity, but it’s not the sort of thing you need to pay $70,000 a year to learn how to do…and when one of Fannin’s former clients (Timlin, who’s pretty crazy in his own right) calls Fannin’s product “snake oil” where “if you can convince your mind to do it, your body will follow,” it sounds more like a cult philosophy. I’m honestly really not sure which is funnier: the idea of A-Rod spending that kind of money every year just so he has someone to whine to about not being to get big hits when his team needs them, that he’s got someone who’s got an undergrad degree in psychology programming his mind every night, or that he sounds like he’s a few steps away from joining Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch.